Neighbors push to make intersection of River Road safer

Updated: May. 8, 2020 at 6:33 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The community is rallying to make improvements to the same area a car registered to missing woman Paige Escalera was pulled from the brush earlier this week.

People who live nearby say the tragic crash that happened on the night of April 15 isn’t the first in the area and they’re concerned it wont be the last either.

They hope that the city adding a stop ahead sign, rumble strips or even a traffic light might save lives.

Hank Walker reached out to the city this week about the intersection. He and his neighbors say people speeding down Independence often fly right through the stop sign at River Road and keep right on going. The road is pretty straight until the last 25 feet where Independence curves right and meets River. Walker believes the stop sign sneaks up on drivers not familiar with the area

Walker has lived in the area for 17 years and says he felt called to reach out to the city this week after the car registered to the missing couple was pulled from the brush. Walker says it hit especially close to home because his daughter knew Escalera’s fiancé, Stephanie Mayorga.

“It’s a straight road until you get right to the curve...the stop sign is at a 45 degree angle for people coming. It faces you once you make the turn, which is too late. I’ve contacted DOT and hopefully they’ll put a stop ahead, rumble strips, something because its going to keep on happening," said Walker.

"They’ve had a lot of accidents since I’ve been here. I think they need to put something like a flashing light to let people know there’s a stop sign,” said neighbor Doris Cunningham.

City officials answered Walker pleas this week but he didn’t get the news he hoped for. After looking at crash history and the signage in place leaders determined no stop ahead sign should be installed.

Hope is still alive that a traffic signal could be put in someday.

A signal at that intersection has been identified as a need under the capital improvement program, but no funding has been allocated yet. It’s estimated to cost around $602,000, according to a city spokesperson.

With $562 million worth of unfunded transportation needs in and around the city, there’s a lot of competition for funding.

It’s a problem not unique to our area. Sometimes it takes a pattern of tragic accidents to move projects to the front of the line. Its a problem that’s not unique to the Port City; sometimes it takes a pattern of tragic accidents to move projects to the front of the line.

“It should be the opposite way around: try to save a life before one is taken,” said neighbor Jeannie Mayes.

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